Citizen scientists discover five super-Earth exoplanets using Kepler data

K2-138 System Diagram

Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered since first they were seen in 1992, largely through observations made using NASA's Kepler Telescope.

Using these data, the team was able to measure the sizes of the planets transiting, or passing in front of, their host stars. In the past three years, Kepler has logged data from 287,309 stars - a number that climbs another 10,000 every few months. So how do astronomers sift through all that data?

New research using W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea has revealed consistent patterns regarding the shape and orbit of a group of exoplanets orbiting the same star. While one of the five planets (the one located closest to its star) is considered to be rocky, the other four exoplanets likely contain "large amounts of ice and gas".

And, they found, when there is some size variation in a planetary system, the planet closest to the star will be smaller, especially if the planet has a short orbital period - possibly because of photoevaporation.

The project that allowed citizen scientists to make the discovery is called Exoplanet Explorers, and is part of the popular citizen scientist platform Zooniverse.

If at least 10 users looked at any particular curve, and at least nine of them (90 percent) indicated a possible transit, Christiansen and Crossfield would analyze that specific signal further. Over 48 hours, the users made almost 2 million classifications from the available light curves.

It's called K2-138, where "K2" signifies that it was discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope during its K2 mission - an exoplanet-hunting mission that's been ongoing for the past three years.

An worldwide research team led by Université de Montréal astrophysicist Lauren Weiss discovered the pattern, which indicates that most planetary systems might have different formation histories than our own. No professional astronomer had yet looked through this dataset, called C12. Come on NASA, you're better than this. But Dr. Christian was confident that there are some more planets orbiting the distant sun-like star. The researchers believe Jupiter and Saturn had something to do with it. The signals appeared to resemble transits from five separate planets orbiting a single star, 190 parsecs, or 620 light years, away. There's no way water would exist on the surface, as portrayed here. It shows us yet another way that star systems can be configured.

K2-138 System Illustration

After this decision, Barentsen left to get a cup of tea.

K2's data comprises light curves - graphs of light intensity from individual stars in the sky.

And that's exactly what they did - detecting a star with four planets orbiting around it.

"Some current theories suggest that planets form by a chaotic scattering of rock and gas and other material in the early stages of the planetary system's life", Christiansen said. The team scrambled to launch the effort, and over two days in April, as the program was broadcast live, Exoplanet Explorers drew 10,000 users who started sifting through the K2 data. They statistically validated the set of planet signals as being "extremely likely", according to Christiansen, to be signals from true planets. A fifth planet was also discovered on the same chain, with hints of a sixth as well.

The ensuing paper has been accepted for publication at The Astronomical Journal, but a pre-print can be found at arXiv. They hope to test how the presence or absence of Jupiter-like planets at large orbital distances relates to patterns in the inner planetary systems.

The findings indicate that most planetary systems may have formed differently than our own. "However, these theories are unlikely to result in such a closely packed, orderly system as K2-138", Christiansen said in a statement. "What's exciting is that we found this unusual system with the help of the general public".

According to the researchers, the citizen scientists across the world contributed immensely to the discovery of the five super-Earth exoplanets. Funding was provided by the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Google, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Related News:

  • Will 2018 Be Berkshire Hathaway's Best Year Yet?

    Will 2018 Be Berkshire Hathaway's Best Year Yet?

    Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, the two investment managers that Berkshire hired in recent years, will be the chief stock pickers. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett said Wednesday that the firm had no interest in jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon.
    JAMB Sets Dates For 2018 UTME

    JAMB Sets Dates For 2018 UTME

    The JAMB registrar also banned the use of wristwatches, biros, pencils and other devices from the examination hall. These prohibitions are not only applicable to the candidates but to all examination officials.

    Virtus Investment Advisers Inc. Purchases Shares of 1161 Kansas City Southern (KSU)

    Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 6,102 shares in the company, valued at $634,058.82. Ryan Heslop decreased its stake in Comerica Inc (CMA) by 29.51% based on its latest 2017Q3 regulatory filing with the SEC.
  • American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) Shares Sold by California State Teachers Retirement System

    AEO is now overvalued by 0.57% relative to the average 1-year price target of $17.41 taken from a group of Wall Street Analysts. The firm had revenue of $960.00 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $960.86 million.
    Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY) Position Reduced by Broderick Brian C

    Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY) Position Reduced by Broderick Brian C

    According to their observations and findings, the stock could provide a high EPS of $0.73/share and a low EPS of $0.63/share. Glendon Capital Management Lp decreased Cf Inds Hldgs Inc (CF) stake by 6.11% reported in 2017Q3 SEC filing.
    FY2019 Earnings Forecast for Signet Jewelers Ltd. Issued By Northcoast Research (SIG)

    FY2019 Earnings Forecast for Signet Jewelers Ltd. Issued By Northcoast Research (SIG)

    It turned negative, as 50 investors sold BA shares while 609 reduced holdings. 61 funds opened positions while 66 raised stakes. Polen Capital Management Llc bought 427,845 shares as the company's stock declined 8.78% while stock markets rallied.
  • Defender Yerry Mina Joins FC Barcelona From Palmeiras

    Defender Yerry Mina Joins FC Barcelona From Palmeiras

    Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are all firmly ahead of the Colombian in the pecking order. I'm going to work to bring something to the best players in the world.

    Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) Holdings Lowered by Allianz Asset Management GmbH

    The returns on assets were 0.30% that gives an idea about how efficient management is at using its assets to generate earnings. Whereas, in last 21 trading days (one month) was climbed 2.82% and surged in last 63 trading days (quarter) of 13.97%.

    Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC Lowers Position in Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (PAG)

    Finally, looking back over the past year-to-date, Penske Automotive Group, Inc. 66 funds opened positions while 193 raised stakes. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board raised its position in shares of Penske Automotive Group by 100.0% in the 2nd quarter.
  • What Is Insider Trading Activity Like At Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR)?

    Cubist Systematic Strategies Limited Liability Corporation stated it has 0.04% of its portfolio in Continental Resources, Inc. It has underperformed by 12.65% the S&P500.The move comes after 5 months negative chart setup for the $21.55 billion company.

    McKesson (MCK) Rating Lowered to Hold at ValuEngine

    Barclays Capital maintained Brookfield Renewable Partners L.P. (TSE:BEP.UN) on Friday, February 3 with "Equal-Weight" rating. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC acquired a new position in shares of McKesson in the 3rd quarter worth $247,000.
    Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) Receives News Impact Score of 0.18

    Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) Receives News Impact Score of 0.18

    However, 4.45% over the last one month, 28.62% for the last quarter and year to date performance stands at 2.90%. (NYSE: WMT ). Zacks Investment Research downgraded Wal-Mart Stores from a "buy" rating to a "hold" rating in a research report on Saturday.


Most liked

Confidence in Signet Jewelers (NYSE:SIG) Shares by RBC Capital Fall
The firm has "Outperform" rating by RBC Capital Markets given on Wednesday, November 11. (NYSE:RMD) rating on Tuesday, October 4. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Signet Jewelers from a "hold" rating to a "buy" rating in a report on Monday, October 2nd.

Iran rebuffs Donald Trump's demand for more nuclear negotiation
As he did in October, Trump again declined to certify to Congress that the nuclear agreement is in the nation's best interest. The U.S. president must sign a waiver suspending the U.S. sanctions on Iran every 120 days.

Earnings Clues on Infinera Corporation (INFN), ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (ZIOP) Analyst's Predictions
The stock of Infinera Corporation (NASDAQ: INFN ) has "Buy" rating given on Wednesday, June 14 by M Partners. (NASDAQ:PEP). Piper Jaffray Companies started coverage on shares of Infinera Corporation in a research note on Thursday, January 19th.

Returning Djokovic can't wait to relight the fire
Nadal nearly claimed a second Australian Open title past year , only to be edged by Roger Federer in a thrilling final. That is giving Djokovic some hope. "I'm hoping that it can be 100 per cent at the start of the tournament".

False ballistic missile alert goes out in Hawaii
Residents of Hawaii were thrown into a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent warning of a ballistic missile threat.

Illinois Tool Works (ITW) Cut to "Market Perform" at BMO Capital Markets
Davidson Kempner Capital Mgmt Ltd Partnership holds 0.96% or 900,000 shares. (JWN) stake by 22.34% reported in 2017Q3 SEC filing. A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business.

Graphic Packaging Holding Company (GPK) And Insider Trading Activity
The stock of Graphic Packaging Holding Company (NYSE: GPK ) has "Buy" rating given on Wednesday, September 2 by Vertical Research. New York-based Blackrock has invested 0.01% in Graphic Packaging Holding Company (NYSE: GPK ). 74,617 are held by Citigroup.

Nokia Corp (NOK) — Stock Trending Alert
The average is taken over a specific period of time, like 10 days, 20 minutes, 30 weeks, or any time period the trader chooses. Historical returns can also be useful when estimating where future points of data may fall in terms of standard deviations.

PPO Under Sign on Shares of Clovis Oncology Inc (CLVS)
It is negative, as 67 investors sold UNP shares while 490 reduced holdings. 95 funds opened positions while 408 raised stakes. Media stories about Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ: CLVS ) have trended somewhat positive this week, according to Accern Sentiment.

California State Teachers Retirement System Boosts Position in Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO)
It offers dealer financial services, including automotive finance and insurance products, mortgage finance, and corporate finance. Virtu Financial Llc decreased Eqt Midstream Partners Lp (NYSE:EQM) stake by 19,828 shares to 12,820 valued at $961,000 in 2017Q3.

Prisons DG: We made a decision to disallow Dr M's Anwar visit
Dr Mahathir was on Sunday announced as the opposition prime minister candidate and this was to have been his first visit to the PKR de facto leader.

Buys 35056 Shares of Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (NYSE:HP)
Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board reported 22,049 shares or 0.01% of all its holdings. (NYSE:HP) rating on Friday, July 28. The average Wall Street analyst rating for Helmerich & Payne, Inc.is Hold, according to the average of 20 analyst scores.

Nuance Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN) Rating Reiterated by Oppenheimer
CRM's financial leverage ratio is 0.98, which indicates that the company's asset base is primarily funded by equity capital. The software maker reported $0.20 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.15 by $0.05.

Manchester City could walk away from Sanchez deal
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal remain in talks with Mesut Ozil over a deal to keep him at the club beyond the end of the season. The Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City saga has been going on for a long time now.

Bray Capital Advisors Reduces Position in Amazon.com, Inc
Amazon's ad revenue could reach $4.5 billion in 2018, a 61% increase from $2.8 billion in 2017, according to JPMorgan. The insider Blackburn Jeffrey M sold $2.05 million. 2,334 shares were sold by Zapolsky David , worth $2.30 million.